Semester One Biology Highlights

Since semester one has essentially finished (bar a few exams and reports being due), I thought I’d take this time to look back on my favourite parts of the modules I’ve experiences on the second year of my undergrad Biology degree.

Life On The Edge

Tech Hub

Life On The Edge (LOTE) is the new and improved version of the Environmental Physiology module from previous years, it deals primarily in microbe, plant, and animal extremophiles. The largest addition to the module was Life On The Edge Evening, a series of short presentations, by the students, on a chosen extremophile. This was hosted in the lecture theatre of the new Tech Hub. One of the purposes of the event is to test the students’ research and presentation skills – which counted towards our grade. Although public speaking isn’t my strong suit, it did give me the chance to bust out my PowerPoint skills – as lame as it sounds, I’m quite fond of designing the slides. However anxious it made me, I’m sure the experience improved my public speaking abilities and got me used to presenting in a professional environment.

Another point of interest for this module was the field-trip to Anderton Nature Park, where we sampled the salt springs for microbes and isolated them from the water back at the lab.

Molecular Biology

This module featured quite an insight into the techniques and points of interest in the field of molecular biology. My personal highlight was learning about epigenetics, as I already knew a little about it and was interested in it before knowing it was featured in the module. Google defines epigenetics as, “The study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.” This module was quite technical but very rewarding, in that the subject matter is complex but also very cutting edge.

Laboratory Masterclass

The highlight of Lab Masterclass has got to be using the scanning electron microscope (SEM). It’s an expensive piece of kit, so it’s incredible that the department to trust all the second year undergraduates to use it for our practical coursework. The assignment in question had to contain two images from the SEM which both had to be scientifically relevant, as well as a short report on the subject matter of the images. This practical was weighted quite heavily for the module, so it was imperative we used our time wisely on the microscope to get some impressive images. We could’ve chosen any sample with biological relevance to look at under the SEM, and being a fan of plants, I chose leaves. I won’t go into the details, but here are some of the images I didn’t use, that I think are still pretty impressive:

The course page for biology has a tab that gives an overview of the modules.

My First Presentation

Whilst my first year at Edge Hill is now drawing to a close I still have to go in for one more thing. Most courses at some point have a module that includes doing a presentation in front of people, and next week is my first. We will only be presenting to around four people, but to say that I’m a little nervous would be an understatement.
The presentation acts as an assessment in one of my film modules and I’ve chosen to do it on Lacanian Theory in the 1999 drug culture film Human Traffic. One of the things that I didn’t count on was the time in which it would take to find stills from the film that appropriately back up my point, and I’ve found myself having to watch the DVD on my laptop so that I can pause at certain points in order to take screenshots. I think that it’s safe to say that after this presentation I won’t want to watch Human Traffic for a very long time!
As daunting as the thought of a presentation can be the tutors have been very helpful. My seminar tutor prepared his own presentation in order to show us what was expected of us. It gave me a good idea of how much information should be on my slides compared to how much I should say. This helped me to decide that my slides would consist mainly of pictures and key words to prompt me. I am also preparing a handout that outlines my main arguments.
Although I’m still nervous for next week I know that everybody will be in the same position. It’s important for me to remember to stay confident and that the presentation will all be over in a few minutes. As panicked as I know I’ll feel beforehand I know that it will all go fine. Now just to get it finished!